"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
- Mark Twain
It seems that every year it becomes more common to see younger and younger children walking around with cell phones. Seeing six and seven year olds with an iPhone is hardly a novelty nor is watching older tweens and teens totally ignoring the world around them while they text like it is an Olympic sport.
One blogger mom took a novel approach when she gave her 13 year-old son an iPhone this Christmas. The present came with a set of rules and conditions. She laid out what was expected of him and even more importantly she gave him guidelines for proper etiquette.
But what is proper etiquette? For my generation, having good manners was something that parents were expected to instill in their children and everyone knew what good manners were. We were taught to look someone in the eye when speaking, to give someone your full attention, to not interrupt, to keep quiet if you don't have something nice to say, and not to gossip or spread rumors. We were also taught to be modest, not to brag, to respect others privacy, and to be on even better behavior when we were out to dinner or in a public place.
It seems that for many parents the addition of cellphones into the family paradigm has allowed all semblance of good manners to vanish. It may be that today there is no universally accepted standard of proper etiquette. This may cause many parents not to realize how rude certain behavior is until their children have adopted it. Even worse when trying to extinguish this behavior in their children, parents often become uncomfortably aware that they are in fact modeling that very behavior.
It may be that as a society we are in desperate need of an Emily Post. Someone to clearly state a set of rules we can use to teach our children, such as: